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Did You Know... The State of the Opioid Epidemic in Ohio

Monday, March 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Karen Hardin
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On February 17, 2018, the Ohio Psychological Association of Graduate Students held its annual Winter Workshop, and this year’s theme was psychology’s role in addressing the opioid epidemic. Experts from Ohio’s psychology community presented information and participated in a panel discussion. 

The experts shared solemn information about the state of the opioid epidemic. The state of Ohio had the second highest age-adjusted drug overdose death rate in 2016 in the U.S.  Between 1999 and 2015, the national rate of opioid overdose deaths more than tripled. 

Much of this rapid increase in opioid-related deaths has been due to changes in the types of opioids being used. Although local and legislative efforts to decrease misuse of prescription opioids have been relatively successful, rates of deaths caused by synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyl) are increasing rapidly. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid structurally similar to heroin, is typically illegally produced, and is more likely to cause lethal overdose than other opioids – it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.  

What should you know?

  • Substance use disorders are deadly. There are ways to help people who overdose if you act quickly, because Naloxone (also known as Narcan) can reverse the effects of overdose.  Nalaxone can be administered by medical professionals and lay people in Ohio. Good Samaritan laws protect those who access emergency services for people who overdose.
  • Clients struggling with chronic pain who are prescribed opioids for pain management may be at risk for abusing other opiates: Over 20% of people who died from unintentional overdose in Ohio had a recent opioid prescription. 
  • People who misuse opioids and meet criteria for substance use disorder often present with comorbid mental health disorders such as affective disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. Psychologists should always screen for comorbid mental health disorders in their clients.


[i] Center for Disease Control, “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999 - 2016”


[ii] Ohio Department of Health, “Background on Fentanyl”


[iii] Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, “What is Naloxone?”


[iv] Ohio Department of Health, “2016 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings”